The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV, expects it overall advertising revenues to grow by 3% during the first half of 2005, versus the same period last year.

The broadcaster's annual meeting in London heard from chairman Sir Peter Burt that digital channels are at the forefront of ITV's growth, and that it intends to "to exploit the opportunities that we have in the digital world".

Most of the ad revenue increase came from the first-time contribution of ITV's majority stake in GMTV, its breakfast channel. The combined ad revenues for the company's main entertainment channels, ITV1, 2 and 3, are expected to be flat in the first half.

Ceo Charles Allen says the advertising market is too volatile to predict: "I never try to forecast it. We have limited visibility." Revenues from food retailers were up, however, amid tight competition in the market and the trend toward healthy eating.

The company, whose flagship channel ITV1 has seen a decline in audience numbers, is particularly keen to highlight its digital successes on the expanding free-to air-platform Freeview.

ITV now intends to promote Freeview more enthusiastically, especially as its ITV1, 2 and 3 digital channels took 27.8% of all viewing on the platform in the first six months of the year.

Commenting on the ITV results analysts are, in general, relieved that "things weren't any worse than we thought and that's enough in this market."

The company has delivered £120 million cost savings and its operating EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) is up 49%.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff